WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned lawmakers that the world will be forced to depend on Iran and the Syrian government to deal with Islamist militants if the United States fails in the task. But at a separate congressional hearing, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel declared that the Pentagon was ready to strike sanctuaries and command centres of the terrorist group called the Islamic State.

During the last 48 hours, Washington witnessed a range of activities suggesting that the Obama administration was ready to launch a new military offensive against IS militants in the Middle East.

President Obama, who met his top military advisers at Tampa, Florida, on Wednesday, also consulted his top national security advisers when he returned to Washington.

The White House said that in the meeting with his national security team, President Obama discussed the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters to the US and nations around the world.

“Is there a potential for the US to coordinate with Iran?” the senator asked again. “No I never said anything about coordinating.

If we are failing and failing miserably who knows what choice they might make,” Secretary Kerry said.President Obama will chair a United Nations Security Council summit in New York next week to discuss his strategy with world leaders, the White House said.

Secretary Kerry’s warning that the world will be forced to depend on Iran and the Syrian government to fight the terrorists if the United States fails, came during his testimony at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

During the debate, Republican senator Marco Rubio asked Mr Kerry whether American combat forces could be deployed to the Middle East if US generals deemed it was necessary for defeating IS.

Secretary Kerry repeated President Barack Obama’s pledge not to deploy ground troops under any circumstances but then raised the prospect of Iranian and Syrian intervention.

At the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defence Secretary Hagel said US plans for combating IS militants included the group’s sanctuaries, command centres and logistic networks in Syria.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2014

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